AUGUSTA, Ga. - The talk of the scoring chances and forgiving conditions that have echoed at Augusta National Golf Club this week were silenced early Saturday.
The long par-4 first hole - known innocently enough as Tea Olive - was a speed bump that almost derailed the third round before it got going.
There are more famous holes at golf's grand shrine, but Saturday solidified the notion that par was a good score, regardless of the low numbers posted Thursday and Friday.
How tough was the opening hole? The 50 world-class golfers at the Masters that included multiple major-championship winners such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington made the same number of birdies at No. 1 as you did Saturday. Zero.
Woods, a four-time Masters champ, had to grind throughout the third round to undo the damage of an opening double-bogey 6.
"Making double at No. 1 and three-putting," said Woods, who is at 4 under par heading into today's final round. "I just put myself behind the 8-ball. But, man, I fought hard to get it back."
After a wayward drive, Woods was unable to recover. For most of the field, just getting a par on the board was reward enough heading into the round.
"Shooting par is a good score today," defending champ Trevor Immelman said. "It's firmed up some now."
The 445-yard first played much longer for much of Saturday. A steady breeze worked almost directly against the players, and the rain that drenched the region overnight limited any extra distance off the tee.
The average score of 4.320 included 36 pars, 12 bogeys and two dreaded others. It was not the most difficult hole of the day - that was the monster-long 11th - but it kept the leaders humble and some of the more aggressive challengers, such as Woods, in check.
"You don't want to know my thoughts," Woods said plainly after his round. "You don't want to know my thoughts."